“Spitting a hot 16 to the little girls on the corner and teaching them why its mean is hip hop !”

Hip hop and aging: Is Gen Y gonna put Gen X in the Hip Hop Old Folks Home? Pt II

My initial conversation with LA happened organically and left a few questions that needed further probing after I reviewed it. She was gracious and interested enough to articulate her thoughts further on the topic of aging and hip hop. Some of these questions seek to get at some commonality in ideas amongst Gen X and Gen Y.  Some seek further explanation about the boxes we assign hip hop and by way of “blackness”.  Others are just plain ole nosy.  In the end it’s another opportunity to discuss issues that are slowly rearing their ugly heads.  Hopefully we can develop a beautiful solution.
 
Do you think the level of mentorship varies depending on whether one moves in the underground arena versus the mainstream? Also how much of this is informed by the need to make money from your art instead of art for art’s sake?

Well before I answer I want to state this.  A major stunt on the progression of hip hop, is it’s constant need to separate underground music from mainstream music, like they are not all together hip hop.  Not that this issue was made completely by the people (the industry shares the guilt as well).  However, with that being said it poses a subconscious or conscious state of elitism in both party’s minds; mainstream believing they are the elite because of their cash-flow and underground believing they are elite because of their mentality.

Thus in this utopian hip hop world that I’ve developed in my mind I would hope that mentorship was a fundamental factor in all arenas of hip hop in hopes to blur the lines between the two into effacement.  And as for the second question, I think a social theorist opinion would best address it, but in my own way of thinking I believe another issue that we have within hip hop, not only hip hop, but black culture, is the lack of sharing ways- to- live traditions, if that makes any sense at all.
So like check it, in asian cultures we find their communities constantly teaching their youth ways of living that can help them develop income, for themselves, and for their families and even for their communities, but in black communities I do not always see the same. And in hip hop I definitely do not see the same.

It’s like I’m in my court playing basketball with my pops and he’s oding with tricks and beating the hell out of me instead of trying to teach me those skills. And then fuck it, I just end up formulating my own skills and evolution becomes awkward.  [As a result]  you find yourself with rappers like me and lil B. But lil B making wayyyyyy more money than I.  For now. ;) So maybe it’s not so much a problem, but a railroad that I wish I didn’t have to work on alone.


You mentioned in our earlier conversation that the older generation should be mentoring the younger generation. While certainly the tenants of hip hop  culture have always included “each one, teach one” that’s not something you see in the mainstream, necessarily.  Competition is something you see in all areas of hip hop  mainstream and underground.  Its also at this point kind of inherent in the culture.  How do mentorship and competition exist in the same arena?  If they can’t exist in the same space, then what does that mean?

Again, I’ll use the analogy of playing ball with my pops. So bong, I’m playing ball. I have no jumpshot. Or I have potential for a dope one and he [sees] this. But he refuses to teach me how to adjust my arm just a tiny bit so I can finally make it because he is afraid I will be better. That’s how I feel in both the mainstream and the underground sometimes.

I personally didn’t grow up in a hip hop household.  So my relationship with hip hop was one I developed a lot from the mainstream light.  Then when I started truly diving into the workings of hip hop like by going to underground shows, poetry slams etc etc I was hearing dope shit, but sometimes I didn’t get it.  I didn’t want to ask because I was afraid because of that “the elite” bullshit.  I was [referring to] … before, so I had to learn by myself.  Sometimes I feel like I’m still missing really important factors on hip hop in general, but my passion for it is undeniable so I won’t stop going in.  

But why not beat me in the game and teach me in the game? You can be an artist for the rest of your life, but why not attempt to be a part of the birth of more artists?  As I stated [in part one] … I truly believe that hip hop is a youth culture, and in it’s inception it’s leaders were young and hungry and that’s what made it thrilling and relatable to the people. But as they get older or more in the game and more ingrained in other ways to make a dollar, that youthfulness becomes fake and the hunger ain’t the same.  

And no disrespect but sometimes it feels like my pops talking bout his glory days. -_- lol. But nah that’s cool too, like I love Jay-Z but I want him to truly start working with artists and helping they glory days, but maybe he doesn’t do that cause no one helped him.  And then it becomes this vicious ass cycle that you see in communities. Often. I didn’t have a father so why should I help my son?

With the exception of breaking—- all other forms of artistic expression are tasks that could physically be done until you’re older.   That isn’t the case with jazz, blues or rock and roll.  They all started out as young movements/party music.  They are many examples of people 50 and up still visible on the main stage.  Why is it different for hip hop ? Why is the perception that after a certain age you outgrow hip hop?

I kinda of answered this in the last question. hip hop  fundamentally is a youth culture. It told the stories of the youth and as it became a hot commodity it’s prophecy was kind of lost. Jazz, blues and even rock started out as youth but in turn became more of a universal transcending wave because the passing on of music I think in my opinion. Like these genres are seen as classics…hip hop in itself, hasn’t marked itself as classic ( in the eye of the Grammy’s beholder -_-)  Songs in hip hop, of course, coined classics, but the genre in itself has not been marked as classic yet. I think this has to do with the images and the commodification of it. But I digress.

And no no no!! Please do not outgrow hip hop! Grow with hip hop! But grow in other ways. Hip hop is not just rapping, hip hop is so much more. Poetry is hip hop, learning about it’s evolution is hip hop, teaching what you know about hip hop is HIP HOP! Spitting a hot 16 to the little girls on the corner and teaching them why its mean is hip hop ! There are so many ways to make hip hop. But we’ve become closed minded and only see that rapping and dapping is all this culture has left.

But nah excuse my french for the millionth time but fuck that! And forget perceptions because in real life, all that matters is what you perceive but all I’m saying is I don’t like seeing woman the same as my mother saying that they will rip my head up in this game and blah blah blah. Ur my mom! Metaphorically of course.

As entertainers some hip hop  artists have made the move to other forms of expression, Queen Latifah and LL Cool J come to mind.   I think you said being a rapper isn’t enough and there was need to seek more than one stream of income, but does that still make you hip hop ? Even if you are in spirit, does the culture allow for such moves?  What if you are strictly an underground artist to begin with?  Does your persona affect your ability to perform for a longer period of time?  For instance The Roots or De La Soul? What about someone like Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito who are legends but not performers.  

I think people not making those moves puts a cap on hip hop’s progression. And even if it’s in spirit, spirit to me is worth much more than a lot of what these rappers are becoming not in spirit. And we are the culture, so the way we move is they way it will move. And if you’re strictly an underground artist , dope, but don’t give me that Don Dara shit.

Tell us stories, tell us history, tell us something so we can hope for a better future. And your persona does not effect your performance capabilities, but it does effect how I look at you, how the millions of other younger kids like you. So whatever you do, whatever you make, make it worth it and make it great. These artists have so much power and instead of sharing it in good hands, the don’t share it or share it with the wrong ones because they know that the wrong ones won’t use it right. And then some body has to be their to pick up after the shit they left.

Will you still have something to say at 45? 50?  How will you speak to, connect with the younger generation?
Yea. I will. If God allows me to stay on the planet I hope to be a Professor in Hip Hop  Theory and Black Psychology. I also have a play called “The Memoirs of Hip Hop ” that I wish to utilize in the near future that hopefully has a transcending theme that can last for generations. But we shall see.

Spoken word as an outgrowth of the Black Arts movement of  the late 60’s early 70’s has been around longer than hip hop  and had several rebirths, vibrant periods.  Has it been pushed as far as it can go?  Why is it ok to be an old poet and not an old MC?  

This goes back to that traditions thing. See hip hop is still younger than a lot of these other entities and it still saying something about the youth. And additionally, hip hop is a derivative of spoken word and thus like how I do, it’s a place I look into for wisdom and inspiration. Additionally, spoken word is not getting dealt with in the same way hip hop  is and thus it has more leeway. Hip hop , specifically cause of the cycles of the industry, the people, its representation and the culture, has been stuck, it has boundaries. Hopefully, we can assist in opening up those doors again.

As a younger artist what do you find valuable about the generation before you?  What should the older generation be looking to the younger generation for?

The generation before are my parents, my grandparents, my aunties and uncles. I need a family. Even if it is fucked up and dysfunctional. so I utilize you guys by watching you from a far to figure out how to dress, how to flow, places to go when I’m stuck. You guys freaking hold the ten commandments on this rap ish (RIP Biggie) so like yea if it wasn’t for the older generation, I wouldn’t have hip hop .

Now for the older generation…I don’t know it’s really subjective. But if I had to say anything look to us for what the world is like outside of your yesteryears.  Use us as a reason for you to continue to grow with hip hop in new ways.

What bothers you the most about being 23 and a MC?

25 is two years away. LOL. Nah. I think that I’m kinda in between generations. And I’m always battling between them.  And that I also find myself battling between doing what I love and doing what I have to do in this world for the money. But one day I know I will have the income from doing what I love. Right now it’s just about investment.

What is intrinsic in hip hop that makes it a young person’s arena?
Hip hop is not just for the young. Rapping and the competition factor in rapping is more of young thing. Hip hop though is a youth culture that can belong in a variety of age ranges. And what makes that factor important is it’s spirit. It’s a spirit for a better tomorrow coming from a struggling group, the future. But these are just my thoughts. Just my thoughts. :) Thanks for this. I really needed it.

“But why not beat me in the game and teach me in the game?”
Black folks have always been about the presentation.  Before street wear, Gucci and bling, there were zoot suits,  silk, mohair and let’s not forget Stacy Adams.  Having your hair tied, dyed and laid to the side, white church gloves and a hat at a not so rakish angle were par for the course.  In hip hop culture this manifested itself in the iconic Kangol and trunk gold chain, but even more so a love of sneakers.  Since before the days of My Adidas folks have been peeping kicks.    In our ongoing series on hip hop and aging I’ve been talking to people who are members of the community.  Next up we have an entrepreneur whose business is closely tied to hip hop.  Brandon Williamson, Thee Ambassador  of Sole Search.  The first sneaker pimp app on the market (available in android and iphone/ipad/itouch format).  This app/business model aids us in our ongoing fashion obsession by allowing the user to search for nearest sneaker boutique no matter where you are in the world. Our conversation just happened organically on day on twitter…Check the panel ——> for the details.

Hip hop and aging and your business model

  • @sole_search OK real question: How closely tied do you think your business model is to hiphop?
  • @alwaysabgirl EXTREMELY..they go hand in hand in each and every level of my business..wouldn't exist without the inspiration from the music
  • @sole_search So how does the aging of hiphop affect your business model?
  • @alwaysabgirl Well in my questioning, it was related to what was memorable fashion wise, but as a whole? The maturity that takes place from...
  • @alwaysabgirl who came up when the focus was more on content and individuality and self worth, it's key in knowing what age group I want to...
  • @alwaysabgirl appeal to and attempt to have their senses alerted by the endeavors I set out upon..running with what's effective vs what's cool
  • @sole_search but your business model --interests GenX, GenY and Gen Whatevathehelltheycall them right? So aside from style and...
  • @sole_search fashion's influence directly... How does the growing pains that exist in the culture affect your project? Appealing to more ...
  • @sole_search than one demographic?
  • @alwaysabgirl Hmmmmm...not purposely. Never against young consumers because I have several, but they also have an understanding for my point...
  • @alwaysabgirl one thing I have been successful in doing is focusing on what I like and hoping others will like it too..to purposely cater...
  • @alwaysabgirl away from my core, I can't say I'd never, but if I did, it would have to be for so much doe I'd never have to sell out again #phonte
  • @sole_search But do you think we'll still be your core... 15, 25 years from now? Or does the business model not allow for something that....
  • @sole_search I mean will it go from hot kicks to hot walking sticks? Is the business model that long term?
  • @alwaysabgirl Under this business? Yes. If something happens where I may have to restructure or create something within to appeal otherwise,
  • @alwaysabgirl that's possible and likely, but at the core where I'm at, the long term is to create an even more narrow lane in that regard
  • @alwaysabgirl but in this particular endeavor, as I grow, the brand grows up as well and hopefully the clientele grows up..like hip hop : )
  • @sole_search so as the demographic ages-your inclination is to specialize further rather than trying to appeal to a diff demo.#interesting
  • @sole_search well you know that's a question I'm exploring on my blog what does it mean for the culture that the primary demo is growing old
  • @sole_search Can you be 40 and still be a bgirl? 50? and what does that mean for the underground and commercial arenas...
  • @alwaysabgirl yea..I kinda base it how ralphie [lauren] has done..he embodies his brand as a whole, but so do a lot of other demo's not his own
  • @sole_search who are we listening to? are the artist of our generation still performing, speaking to us, for us? I mean yr allowed to be ...
  • @alwaysabgirl its almost like you HAVE to be..but I think it evolves..like my mom can still tell me all about the music of her time, but with
  • @sole_search old in RB Jazz and Rock and Roll... right?
  • @alwaysabgirl hip hop, like thats something you genuinely live and embody so no matter what, from backroads to boardrooms, it remains
  • @alwaysabgirl now THAT is an issue forreal..are the artists of our era even talking to us anymore? true isht..and most cases, no...
  • @alwaysabgirl right...
  • @sole_search ralph doesn't have as many trends to contend with-- I mean some these styles aren't necessarily classic. I can't wear ...
  • @alwaysabgirl TRUE TRUE! its some questionable stuff in there for sure..lol..
  • @sole_search I can't wear ice creams at 60 but I think I could wear these http: //tinyurl.com/noticecreams
  • @alwaysabgirl always! you will be able toe wear those now, 5 ago, and 15 from now..i can't ever ice creams..lol
  • @sole_search I know im talking your ear off brother...so excuse me. LOL ok but...
  • @alwaysabgirl very interesting tho i must say..it really requires me to consider where it'll be when its all said and done...
  • @alwaysabgirl lol! not an issue at all!
  • @sole_search walking around telling my grandchildren u dont know nuffin about this...LOL which brings me to my next question
  • @sole_search so I know how I represent and participate in the culture now. I write, I purchase, I share, I try to teach but
  • @sole_search when yr a certain age don't you have to demonstrate that in another way? I mean how many 20 yr olds am I gonna know when I'm 60
  • @alwaysabgirl hmm...yea...without being teachy because most at 20 won't know about what we know about..even now me to a 20 is a big gap
  • @sole_search I guess we'll figure it out as we go... didn't think hiphop would make it this far... ;-)
  • @sole_search so would u be salty if I put this convo on my blog?
  • @alwaysabgirl wooooord!! and to have grown the way it did is CRAZY! seemingly as anything grows, things like this happen
  • @alwaysabgirl NOT AT ALL! I'd be perfectly fine with it and look fwd to seeing how it may be responded to
  • @sole_search fo sho stank you very much
  • @alwaysabgirl : -) thank you b girl
“Feminists did not hate men. In fact, they loved men.”
-



RA RA but of course she is…

I must say when I ventured forth on this lyrical journey I knew that there were women emcees out there that were hot. That just hadn’t been getting their due.  It happens to women folk all the time, In all walks of life, in all kinds of business. And let us not forget in our personal lives how many times women have held down a family, a crisis,  we even hold down movements and don’t get no motherfucking credit.  But let me calm down.  Because what I really want to say is I am delighted at finding the plethora of talent available to highlight.  You gotta listen to ALOT, and I mean ALOT of wack shit before you find that jewel (and that’s with any music scene) but when you find it. You praise baby jesus and press rewind.

The emcee making me press rewind today is RA the MC.  She does not hesitate, she is a MC aka mic controller in the true sense of the word.  Repping for the DMV area (that’s D.C., Virginia and Maryland for the uninitiated) She has been doing the thing since a teen.  As they say practice makes perfect. The evolution of an artist is a beautiful thing to behold, the end result this time is this. The second video in support of her current effort Heart of A Champion.  A fixture on the underground scene for a while with several mixtapes under her belt and a 2009 VMA Breakout Artist Nomination this emcee has only just begun her rocket to the finish line despite having a mix tape called Victory Lap.  What can I say about her ability as an emcee that hasn’t been said already?   Perhaps its best to just let her speak for herself. Get the motherfucking tape.  You can thank me later.

She is a Boss But I Can Do Without The Bitch.

Now I may have given you the impression thus far that I am all about the underground, backpacker rap.  Well, that’s true to a degree.  I love backpacker rap, it takes me to the days when I rocked a fisherman’s vest and doc martens what can I say.  However, don’t let the girbauds fool you.  I can get crunk.  I been getting crunk since befo’ they called it crunk.  I mean really what was Onxy and M.O.P but an excuse to act up and out, but I digress.

Most of all what I respect is lyricism and tight production.  One without the other isn’t artistry, it’s just some shit that needs improvement.  There I said it.  So with that in mind at all times I want you to remember this blog is not solely dedicated to big upping women emcees. First and foremost I support hiphop.  Supporting mediocrity does not help the culture grow.  It creates a marketplace where niggas look to get paid and add nothing to the cultural landscape that is hiphop or the business that is rap.

So please allow me to hip you to an indie artist, very well known in many circles.  She is Rasheeda the GA Peach.  Claiming  her southern hood chick flava, repping for team DLO and currently the mixtape queen of da south.  Plus her name Rasheeda, my nig.  The only way it could get mo better is if it was Keisha. I’m not gonna discuss what is likely a killer management team given her underground status. I’m not gonna discuss how fly or authentic I think this sister is. We are gonna talk about her latest project Boss Bitch Music, Vol II. Yes the title leaves a little to be desired in my point of view, but this chick here can spit. Witty? check. Funny as hell? check. Bumpable? check.  Versatile flow? check. Varied vocabulary? check. 15 years of writing rhymes will do that for ya.

Now given her contemporaries some of y’all may think she falls in the same category. I am here to tell you she does not.  Still don’t believe me?  Listen before you buy .

alwaysabgirl

alwaysabgirl

Rheal Talk about women and hip hop not necessarily in that order.

Oh yeah we cuss ALOT--might not want to read us at the J-O.
Check us out on http://twitter.com/alwaysabgirl
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